Facebook is being increasingly used by Americans to openly admit that they are LGBT, according to a new study the social-networking giant released Thursday. The new research shows that the number of users ‘coming out’ each day is more than three times what it used to be a year ago.
U.S. Supreme Court ruling made the difference
Facebook defines ‘coming out’ as an update from a user to their Facebook profile to express attraction for the same gender or specifying a custom gender. The study noted that 6 million of its U.S. users identified themselves as LGBT, and last year over 800,000 came out. Of note, Facebook introduced the feature last year. Since the feature is relatively new, researchers firmly believe that the figure is likely underestimated.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark same-sex ruling in June and few other major events on the same issue resulted in ‘significant strides’ in the LGBT movement in recent years, says Facebook. A spike of 250% in people ‘coming out’ on Facebook was noted that day in comparison to the National Coming Out Day in 2014.
Facebook says that on a typical day only one out of ten people change their ‘interested in’ status to reflect their interest in the same gender. But, this ratio doubled on the day the Supreme Court gave its ruling. In the following days, more than 26 million people chose to display a rainbow filter on their profile picture.
Facebook notices rise in support of LGBT rights groups
The support of LGBT rights groups on Facebook is also on the rise. Support has increased by nearly 25% over the past year, and also spiked sharply after the Supreme Court’s ruling, the social networker said. The study found that at least one of the top 300 popular LGBT pages, such as Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, gets support from 5.7 million Americans.
In an e-mail to USA Today, director of research and public education at Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Jay Brown, said that Facebook’s research is proving “just what a difference visibility makes to LGBT people.”
Lauding social media’s effort, Brown said, “In a year that’s seen unprecedented coverage of LGBT people — from major coming out moments to Supreme Court victories to tragedies shaking the community — we see people becoming visible in their own lives.”